The Abyss of Software Licensing: A Flicker of Light!

Let’s face it: Software Licensing in a fact of life. You have to choose something. By not actively choosing a license, the code is automatically becomes copyrighted. This means that the public has permission to read the code but cannot legally use it. In order to use the code, authorization is required directly from the creator.

Having said that, let’s explore a couple of the basic licensing options: Open (or free) and Proprietary (or closed). Advocates of free licensing software use the term “proprietary” when referring to a software license that is not free or open source.

Mostly, the term “open source” refers to software in which the source code is accessible to the public for use and can be altered, revised and changed in any manner. Open source code is usually the result of a collaboration of programmers whose goal is to improve existing code and share the improvements within the public. Open source sprang forth in the technological community as a reaction to proprietary software that is corporate-owned.

In contrast, proprietary (or closed) software is licensed under the copyright holder with the objective that the proprietor implements the software under defined prerequisites, and constrained from such uses as revision, distribution, scrutinizing, and duplicating.

A similar, yet distinct classification in the software microcosm is “commercial software,” which speaks toward software that is manufactured for sale, but without implying it is a closed source.


The Flicker: WTFPL

The WTFPL is a distinctive and progressive license designed for software, scientific and artistic creations that afford a plethora of liberty. In reality, it is arguably the crème de la crème of licenses. Case in point: The unending conflict between GPL (General Public License) extremists and BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) devotees concerning, which license allows for the most freedom. Actually, the GPL and BSD both contain objectionable clauses that ruthlessly restrict our liberties. The WTFPL puts it all to rest.

When evaluating the degree of freedom a license affords, it is advisable to ensure that it permits free usage, revision and restructuring. Also, make sure that the supplementary constraints do not impair essential liberties. The WTFPL negates the aforementioned as it permits everything and restricts nothing. Hence the name, “What The F*** Public License.” What could be better? You simply do Whatever The F*** you want. Everyone has permission to copy and circulate exact or amended copies of this liberal license certificate. Further, changes are permissible providing the name is also changed.


Below is a copy of the WTFPL: 


                    Version 2, December 2004


 Copyright (C) 2004 Sam Hocevar <>


 Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim or modified

 copies of this license document, and changing it is allowed as long

 as the name is changed.





  0. You just DO WHAT THE F*** YOU WANT TO.

You many download a text file to use in your next project here:

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